Cristiano Ronaldo’s goals were always going to be hard to replace and the timing of his departure caused Juventus problems, but the Portuguese star remains in a difficult situation at Manchester United, writes Vilizar Yakimov.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s record of 81 goals in 97 Serie A appearances in the last three seasons means that Juventus’s struggles after his departure should be more than expected.
The Bianconeri’s tally of 18 goals after the first 13 league games is their worst in six years. Although there are many similarities with the 2015-16 campaign, when the Old Lady had a disastrous start to the season under Max Allegri, a repeat of that scenario, with Juve eventually winning the title, seems unlikely this term, with the competition being much stronger now and the current Juventus team being a shadow of its former self.
Losing Ronaldo would always create a problem in attack, especially considering that no proper replacement came in.
There are maybe two or three players in the world who can get close to his number of goals, but unfortunately, La Vecchia Signora can no longer afford any of them.
Juventus have to find a way to evolve after CR7’s exit. That’s an arduous task itself, but the timing of his move to Manchester made it almost impossible and the directors should take the blame for that.
There were plenty of signs earlier in the summer that Ronaldo would want to leave and knowing that he’ll always put his personal interest in front of the one of the club, Juve should’ve let him go much earlier.
Instead, the club acted like an overdependent lover, who is desperate to keep a malfunctioning relationship alive, trying to keep the Portuguese happy at all costs. The truth is that was never going to happen and the last two seasons showed plenty of problems to be fixed, even with Ronaldo.
However, financial issues and poor transfer policy meant that the club never really addressed them and Cristiano’s enormous salary didn’t make that easier. There is no doubt that even at 36, CR7 remains one of the deadliest finishers around, but besides the goals, his overall game has declined rapidly in the last few seasons.
This is evident even now at Manchester United, where Ronaldo has continued to score regularly, but having him in any team is a luxury that requires immense sacrifices from all his teammates. In Juve’s case, Cristiano’s presence often meant an unbalanced squad, limited playing time for Paulo Dybala and inability to strengthen the team during the transfer windows.
However, even at Old Trafford, there is a debate on whether the presence of Ronaldo is affecting the team’s development. The Portuguese ace wants to win the Ballon d’Or once again in his career, but the return to Old Trafford won’t help him achieve it.
The Portuguese star pushed to leave Juventus at all costs, but United is not in a better situation than the Old Lady. Both sides sit eight in the table, but while Juve are only four points short of a Champions League placement, United are six points behind West Ham and have just sacked their coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Their technical project is stuck in the middle of nowhere. Ronaldo keeps scoring goals, but it’s hard to imagine him lifting a title this season. So, was it really worth leaving Turin?
It’s fair to say there are no winners in his move to Manchester United: neither he nor Juventus have gained something.
Surely, the Bianconeri were affected by the timing of his exit and are now desperate to find a replacement or more replacements who can score the same goals as Cristiano.
The biggest mystery of all is how come everyone who follows football saw the risk of Ronaldo pushing for a move, while the Juventus management simply hoped that this broken marriage would continue for at least another season.
Juventus did a marvellous job when they started their dynasty under Antonio Conte more than a decade ago. Back then, the club was able to foresee things that were simply invisible for the others.
Snatching an unknown teenager named Paul Pogba for free, trusting in Andrea Pirlo’s ability when Milan deemed him to be too old are just a few of the brilliant moves that the club made.
The last few seasons showed that losing Giuseppe Marotta was a colossal mistake, but as good as the current Inter sporting director might be, his departure is not the only reason for Juve’s downfall. Allowing a player to become bigger than the club was a huge mistake, while the inability to see his departure was another one.
It was evident that Ronaldo was not the solution, but his departure alone surely doesn’t solve the problems either. Juventus must invest the funds from his sale and salary to get a young and hungry striker like Dusan Vlahovic. At the same time, Federico Cherubini has to do his best to offload overpaid and underperforming figures like Aaron Ramsey and Adrien Rabiot to strengthen the midfield.
The problem is that doing all this in January seems almost impossible and the risk of failing to reach the top four is now real. Therefore, Juventus must improve quickly. Direct competitors became stronger in the last few seasons, while Juve lost their unbeatable aura long before Ronaldo’s departure.